“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”, said Anatole France. Pet ownership is undoubtedly one of the best pleasures in life, providing companionship and giggles galore. Those of us who live by this statement deeply understand the bond that we share with our pets. They are not only our loyal companions, but also teach us compassion while offering unconditional love.
Very few are aware that animals and pets can benefit as much from natural supplements and healthy lifestyle practices, as we do. The healing principles of Ayurveda, one of the predominant mind-body healing sciences, that first originated in 6,000 BC, can be utilised to help both people and animals, from a more integrated and holistic perspective. As the pets become an inseparable part of our family, we start realising the need for the wisdom that Ayurveda offers. One of the most beautiful things about Ayurveda is that it is anything but a “one-size-fits-all” approach to wellness.
The Ayurvedic approach provides various methods to nourish and restore balance to the five senses — taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. All information received by the mind and body (for two or four-legged beings) is channelled through these five gateways and integrated into the system. With this in mind, Ayurvedic treatments work towards improving factors that nourish the system, while reducing stimuli that exaggerates imbalance, to help restore equilibrium in a natural and holistic way.
A unique practice in Ayurvedic medicine is the concept of body typing, which is based on the five elements theory. Determining our pet’s body type allows us to learn how to create a fine balance in their mind, body and spirit, thereby allowing our pet to achieve and maintain optimal health. Moreover, as our furry friends begin functioning at an optimal level, it doesn’t only bode well for them, but also the world around them. Indeed, our pets’ well-being has a great effect on everything and everyone they come across.
The Tridosha are the three elements that are represented in humans as well as animals. Dosha means elements that are either “protective,” or, when out of balance, “disease-producing.” The Tridosha are the three humours, or metabolic forces that structure the mind and body. They’re called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All beings are made from all three doshas (aka all three elements), but we each carry our own unique ratio of them. It’s this personal combination or “recipe” that determines our primary constitution.
Also referred to as the leader of the bodily Ayurvedic principles, Vata governs all movement within the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts. Many experts suggest that it is vital to keep the Vata in good balance.
Nourishing pet foods for Vata include — warm and moist foods including grains (if not allergic), goat milk and root vegetables. Also, aromatherapy plays a key role in our pet’s health, as the scents of lavender, chamomile and cedar help ground and balance their minds, when applied on their fur or skin.
Pitta is a force created by the dynamic interaction of water and fire. This force represents change. Also, known as bile, Pitta regulates digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, body temperature, luminosity of the eyes, intelligence and understanding. Psychologically, Pitta produces anger and jealousy. During playtime, skip the roughness and introduce mentally stimulating activities such as agility games or basic fetching.
Light fragrances such as rose, peppermint, sandalwood and lemongrass can help re-balance a bile-imbalanced pet. Cucumber, apple, aloe vera and parsley — all cooling foods can be added to our pet’s diet along with coconut oil.
Kapha is the ideological balance of water and earth. It can also be imagined as a force that keeps water and earth apart. This dosha maintains body resistance. Water is the main component of Kapha and is responsible for the biological strength and natural tissue resistance in our pet’s body.
To achieve the perfect balance of this dosha we must keep our pet’s food on the lighter side, by adding leafy green vegetables and a small amount of finely chopped ginger to further encourage digestion. Avoid mostly heavy, fatty foods, processed snacks and treats. Animals dependent on Kapha can benefit from very mild scents of cinnamon and sage.